Artificial turf is coming to Godwin

Axselle Stadium has natural grass fields and will be replaced with synthetic turf in 2020. photo Kathryn Chamberlain

In recent years, athletes and fans alike have most likely noticed the degradation of the fields and tracks which surround Godwin.

However, starting in the spring of 2018, the county will begin construction on turning the schools’ natural fields into turfs.

Last Nov. a bond-referendum passed by Henrico County set up a plan to turn the natural sports fields into artificial turfs for all schools in the county.

For Godwin, it will mean a 2020 spring without the field or track, but beginning in 2021, there will be a new artificial field in Axselle stadium as well as a new and improved track.

The schools scheduled to get renovations done this spring are Freeman, Hermitage, and Varina.

The field change will decrease rain-outs for Godwin because of the turf’s material that prevents the field from being flooded during storms. Thunder and lightning, however, will still cause delays and cancellations.

The turf will also allow more sports to play on the main field because it is more durable.

For example, field hockey, who currently plays on extra fields by the baseball field will be able to move to Axselle stadium after the renovation, according to director of student activities Tom Nadeau.

Another positive to turf fields is they require much less maintenance.

This does mean, however, that in 2020 lacrosse, soccer, outdoor track, and indoor track will not be able to use the football field or the track. This will cause setbacks in games and other competitions.

Nadeau said, “Henrico County Recreation and Parks are working with us to secure locations for games as necessary and I expect on the JV level it might be at Deep Run Park or Short Pump Park.  Varsity might work with other schools where we would play both girls and boys varsity as a double header at the other school.”

This would mean no home games for some sports during the renovation.

There are also some health concerns that have been brought up recently related to turf fields.

The most prominent of these are different cancers that the artificial dirt in the turf can possibly cause.

Practices, however, will not be affected during the renovation due to only the football field and track being redone.

Practice fields could potentially be made into turf fields, but for now they will remain natural grass.

The funding for the project will come from the county, by means of the bond-referendum passed in Nov. The referendum was passed by voters on the government side, not from the schools.

Three elements are used to determine when each school is selected for their renovations.

First was field availability. For instance, Freeman, who has just three fields, greatly needs the turf because it will enable different sports to play on it without the field breaking down.

The second consideration was keeping things fair and even across the board. The county wanted to choose, “A west end, a central, and an east end school to keep equity across the county,” according to Nadeau. This way no area would be favored or unfavored.

Lastly, current field and track conditions were considered. This means that schools with the fields or tracks in the worst shape at the moment would get  tacks and fields fixed sooner than others.

Aside from the field and track improvements, “We’re [the school] looking at possible upgrades, working with the GAA and other sources to upgrade the scoreboard and [other equipment],” said Nadeau.

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